Multibeam Technology from Land of the Long White Cloud… New Zealand - 06/09/2013

WASSP, Part of ENL

Freddy Foote

Founded in 1945, ENL is New Zealand’s largest marine electronics company, employing around 50 people across its two locations: Auckland, North Island (head office) and Nelson branch, South Island. Its core business activities focus on 4 main groups: import & distribution / service and support / systems engineering / MBS R&D.

With its origins firmly rooted in the commercial fishing industry as a technology supplier and service operation to the fleets, the company has expanded as technological innovation in areas such as radar, sonar and satellite communications has progressively become more critical to both commercial fishing operations and other marine applications. In line with this growth the company has also spearheaded its own R&D activities over the last 10 years with the development of the multibeam system WASSP (Wide Angle Sonar Seafloor Profiler).

Entirely designed and manufactured by ENL in New Zealand and sold by a global network of authorised dis­tribu­tors covering some 39 countries, WASSP has systems reliably serving to a broad range of hydrographic and commercial applications. From fishing to dredging to complex mapping applications, WASSP provides a reliable and comprehensive real-time MBS solution at a very competitive price point.

Continual investment by ENL in WASSP R&D has been a key driver to its rapid growth. From an original base of a single product model to a multi-model portfolio comprising the WMB-3250, WMB-3230 and WMB-5230, WASSP is now offered in various frequency and beam configurations to suit the application: 112 or 224 beams, 160kHz & 80kHz, various 3rd party survey & mapping interfaces and all with a 120 degree swath capable of mapping the seafloor approximately 100 times faster than a single beam system.


“The only way to keep our market position and continued growth path is through investment - whether it be in seeking the very best design & software engineers, in ensuring we use the very latest technology or in ensuring our manufacturing systems are the ‘leanest’ possible – investment underpins everything we do” , says Gareth Hodson – MD ENL.

10 years of development have been put into ENLs WASSP. From its original inception and focus on developing an MBS system for a niche seafloor mapping application in the commercial fishing industry to where it is now has been a steep learning curve. One of the driving tenants from not only its demanding fishing customers but also the growing surveying and mapping users has been to provide a far simpler user interface – GUI, particularly for customers using WASSP in a real-time mode where time equals money and the need to collect accurate data efficiently and quickly is paramount. Capable of being operated as a standalone real-time system with its own Navigator software suite or interfaced to engineering suites such as QPSs QINSy, Hypack or EIVA for real or post-processing of data, WASSP provides a wide selection of user options.


In line with what its markets and customers want, WASSP’s overall development path will see its model range go both deeper and shallower and with further enhanced signal processing and novel transducer designs. These technology drivers will also underpin WASSP’s development in a number of critical user-specific applications – enhanced water column analysis, seafloor categorisation and image resolution. Customers of WASSP face the same market dynamics as any other industry – competition, and if they are confident that a system’s performance will meet the performance and operational criteria required…the most competitively priced product will usually win. Customers view any capital purchase in terms of a ‘payback period’…and a competitively priced MBS system provides a commercial opportunity to them, particularly in the survey/mapping market, enabling them to not only bid their work more competi­tively but also gain a quicker payback period and hence path to profit. ENL saw a market opportunity for a high performance entry level MBS that combined quality data capture with ease of use and ability to interface to mainstream software suites such as EIVA , Hypack and QPS. The physics of underwater acoustics will not change, but what is changing is the use of advanced technology and digital signal processing techniques to drive MBS development and that will only accelerate further – and it is the latter that ENL is focused on. Speed to market and continually pushing the development envelope out further are key to ENL’s strategy and continued growth. MBS is no longer the sole domain of large, complex, expensive systems. Advanced signal processing combined with novel transducer designs are very rapidly bringing the benefits of MBS to a wider user base. 

Last updated: 09/03/2021